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Chomsky Speaks About U.S. Role In United Nations

By Shankar Mukherji


In a presentation highlighting the often duplicitous role of the United States in the United Nations, Institute Professor Noam Chomsky addressed a nearly packed 26-100 on Tuesday.

Chomsky centered his argument around what he believes to be the United Nations’ lack of independence from the globe’s major powers.

“There are plenty of valid criticisms against the UN,” said Chomsky, “but the major issue is that the UN can [only] function insofar as the great powers permit it to.”

Armed with a mountain of publicly available evidence, Chomsky showed a repeated pattern of U.S. policy dominating U.N. policy.

“U.S. power was so overwhelming [that] many issues were off the table. For example Vietnam was never brought up. ... If it had it would have meant the end of the U.N.,” Chomsky said.

“Don’t interfere with the Don [the United States] -- it’s dangerous,” Chomsky said.

Chomsky criticizes the media

The linguistics professor was especially critical of the media’s failure to report on the truth of past actions of the United States delegation.

“Since the 1960s [for example], the United States is far in the lead in vetoing [Security Council resolutions] ... but it had never been reported in any paper,” Chomsky said.

According to Chomsky, however, a “wondrous sea-change took place in 1990, when the U.S. was preparing to go to war with Iraq.”

“Though world opinion [was against the war] -- world opinion is not important -- that willingness to go with the U.S. lead elicited an interesting response [from the media],” said Chomsky, referring to the accolades lavished on the U.N. by the American press soon after the announcement of Operation Desert Shield.

According to Chomsky, however, the change in tone did not significantly alter the way U.N. issues were reported in the media.

“Resolutions condemning the United States and Israel passed by 150-some to 2, but by definition everything the U.S. did was still the peace process, even if it was undermining peace.”

The extent of U.S. dominance

Chomsky delved further into the peace process, arguing how the United States’ decidedly pro-Israeli stance dominated all discussions regarding the Middle East peace process.

“Why did the U.S. vote against or veto resolutions against things like terrorism? Because the resolutions contained a paragraph supporting the right of self-determination which would authorize things like ... the Palestinian resistance,” Chomsky said.

As recently as Mar. 27, Chomsky said, the United States vetoed a Security Council resolution calling for a U.N. observer force in the occupied territories.

“The veto shocked the European Union as the United States insisted that the resolution have no mention of siege, land for peace, or settlements following the Geneva Convention [of 1949],” which, according to Chomsky, the state of Israel has repeatedly violated.

The noted American dissident then analyzed the United States’ often puzzling relationship with the World Court. While a charter member of the United Nations, the United States, said Chomsky, has been very careful of adding reservations to virtually every document governing issues of sovereignty.

Chomsky, quoting an official U.S. source, said, “The United States had accepted World Court jurisdiction when most members shared its view, but now a great many of these [members] ... often work against us, thus the U.S. [also] retains domestic jurisdiction.”

Chomsky also added that the United States has added reservations “to each and every human rights resolution ever passed.”

“The principle is clear: the U.N. and World Court are wonderful as long as they follow orders,” Chomsky said.

Question and answer period

Following the hour-long talk, members of the audience had the chance to ask Chomsky questions.

When asked if all the information he obtained was available to the public, Chomsky mused on the difference between Eastern and Western modes of propaganda.

“Yes, it’s all available, unlike Stalinist Russia ... [but] our facts get ignored and suppressed; the Western propaganda system is much much more sophisticated.”

The final questioner of the evening asked Chomsky for a solution to the globe’s political problems.

“Stop the talk of Wilsonian principles,” Chomsky said. “It is an ideological clap-track. The question is not ‘How do we get to Utopia?’ but rather ‘How do we improve things?’ And it is our responsibility, because we have the privilege and opportunities, to change things.”